Team Leadership Guide

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  Managing Change

Leaders earn their stripes by helping their teams cope with change.  It is important to note that change is inevitable, messy, non-linear, and sneaky.  Nevertheless, change is the impetus for innovation and growth.  Leaders help others grasp the complexity of change and by doing so generate a methodology to navigate the change process.

John Kotter, leadership expert at the Harvard Business School writes that there are typically eight steps for productive change:*

Step One: A sense of urgency is defined among key players,

Step Two: A credible team of “change agents” is pulled together to guide the change process.

Step Three: The guiding team develops clear and straight-forward visions and strategies.

Step Four: The guiding team communicates the vision and strategies to all relevant parties.

Step Five: Leaders work to empower people to remove obstacles that might block the vision or strategies.

Step Six: The empowered change agents provide resources and momentum for short-term wins.  This helps quiet cynics and skeptics.

Step Seven: Change leaders don’t give up; rather they relentlessly work to build a momentum for change by identifying “what’s next.”

Step Eight: Leaders make change lasting by nurturing a new culture that incorporates the behavior and values that support the changes.

Kotter emphatically draws the conclusion that at the core of successful change is “about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly y speaking to people’s feelings.”

*John Kotter, The Heart of Change. Boston : Harvard business School Press, 2002.

A word about overcoming resistance to change.

Change is difficult for many.  When leaders meet resistance to change, they must convince others that the new reality has benefits.  Frequently, this means that leaders must convey their own commitment to the change, overcome misrepresentations with clear explanations and information, and provide training and support.